ATLANTIC CITY — Eagles fans spent the last seven months celebrating the Super Bowl. But the party's over. The new season is here, the coach is grouchy, and the focus now is on doing it all over again.
But the party's just beginning for local sports bettors. The Supreme Court's decision in May to overturn a federal ban has opened up sports betting across the country, including the three states in our region.
Delaware and New Jersey were ahead of the pack and have had sports-betting parlors open for several months. Folks in Atlantic City, especially, hail sports betting as a key step to returning the wobbly resort town to prominence.
With the NFL season at hand. Here is a look at AC's sportsbooks and how they rank.
1. Ocean Resort. One of the supervisors has been telling me for weeks that it was constructing the nicest sportsbook on the East Coast. Not sure about the whole coast, but it's the best in our area. Recliners with electrical outlets and USB ports are in front of the massive screens that encircle the room. Odds boards, TVs and a Dow Jones-like sports ticker would rival Vegas's top parlors. The 'book is run by William Hill and the adjacent bar is operated by the hotel, so it doesn't give out complimentary drinks for sports bettors as they do in other places. Located at the north end of the boardwalk, site of the old Revel casino.
2. Golden Nugget. Large room across from the casino that looks like a man cave on steroids. Plenty of TVs, betting boards, tables and chairs. Will be a good spot on Saturdays and Sundays when multiple games are being played. Has only three betting stations, so don't wait until 8:15 to get in Thursday night's Eagles action. Offers free self -parking, which is nice for those who prefer not to use mobile betting and just need to make a quick stop on the way to other shore towns.
3. Borgata. Just kicked off a three-week poker tournament, held right near the race and sports book. The energy level should be high. Needed to expand, so they renovated the former high-limit area into an auxiliary lounge with extra betting stations, TVs and gaming tables. Named it Level One. Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay's restaurants are a screen pass from the action. Self-park at the surface lot for easier access to the sportsbook.
4. Bally's. Also spacious, but the odds boards aren't great. Located in the Wild Wild West part of the casino, which gets pretty raucous on weekends. There is some recliner seating plus bar stools and tables in front of about a dozen TVs. Adequate until the permanent sportsbook is built.
5. Harrah's. Smallish, temporary area tucked in a corner not far from restaurants and the lounge. Dotted with recliners and high-top tables. Had the best odds, as of Tuesday, on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, at 11-1. Others in Atlantic City were from 7-1 to 9-1.
6. Resorts. Small room with minimal betting sheets, not much in the way of odds boards and hardly any seating. This also is temporary, and a clear indication that Resorts is concentrating on the mobile market with sportsbook operator DraftKings.
The Hard Rock and Tropicana hotels do not take sports bets but have said they will at some point. Caesars is directing its customers to Bally's, its conjoined affiliated property.
The scene is the same every year the Super Bowl winners open up. The championship banner drops. The players are in a frenzy. The home crowd is ready to eat the railings.
Opening night after a Super Bowl win has been very good to the defending champs. But for bettors jumping on the home team, the results have been mixed — which is exactly what the bookies want.
Every Super Bowl champion has started the subsequent season at home on Thursday night since the Patriots kicked off 2004 against then-rival Peyton Manning and Indianapolis — with two exceptions.
The Ravens opened 2013 on the road, in Denver, because of a scheduling conflict with the Orioles, who had a home game scheduled that night. Baltimore's downtown area couldn't handle both events and the Orioles refused to move their game.
The following year, the Giants opened at home, but it was on a Wednesday because the NFL didn't want to conflict with President Obama's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Guessing the current president would have 12 heart attacks if the NFL adjusted its schedule for such a purpose at a DNC.
Since this tradition started, the defending champs are 11-2 at home straight-up. They are 7-3-3 against the spread, but just 3-3-2 over the last eight. The over/under has been an unreliable 6-6-1.
The Eagles, of course, have never been in the position of starting the season as defending Super Bowl champ, but NFC teams are 3-1-1 as the conference has won just five championships since 2003. New England alone has won four.
The Eagles opened as 4- or 4.5-point favorites over the Falcons, but the line is down to 2 in some places. Guess people are back to not believing in Nick Foles again. Woof, woof.
Some sports betting jargon to know:
Point spread: Wager based on the margin of victory. The Eagles are 2-point favorites against the Falcons, so they have to win the game by three or more points for the bet to pay off. Any loss or tie, or a win by one or two points, won't get it done.
Money line: Wager based solely on the outcome. There is no point spread, but the odds are based on the amount bet.
The hook: The half-point. If you got the Eagles at 2.5 points and they beat Atlanta by two points — say, 23-21 — they did not cover your 2.5-point spread. Thus, you have been gaffed by "the hook."
Parlay: A single wager involving multiple teams. The more teams in a parlay, the larger the payout. But the more teams in a parlay, the higher the likelihood it loses.
Teasers: Bets on at least two teams in which point spreads are adjusted in favor of the bettor. Payouts aren't nearly as generous as parlays.
Over/under: The total points (or runs, or goals) scored by both teams. The over/under for the Eagles-Falcons game is 45.5. If 23-21 is the final score, "under" would be the winning bet.
Future bet: Wager on an event further in the future (i.e. team to win the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup).
Bookie: The guy being squeezed out by legalized and regulated sports betting.
Dollar: Slang for a $100 wager. See also half-dollar ($50) and quarter ($25) wagers. Thousand-dollar bets are called dimes; $500 bets are nickels.
Dime line: A line with 10 percent juice, which is pretty standard. A two-dime line gives the house 20 percent juice. Nickel lines are 5 percent.
Juice: The amount the house collects on a losing bet. Also known as the vig or vigorish.
Sharps: Professional gamblers whose handicapping acumen and large bets can move point spreads.
Squares: The rest of us.